Los Angeles

Immigrant Rights Group Demands Answers About Border Patrol Arrest

The plea from the family and girlfriend of 22-year-old Jesus Alonso Arreola Robles paints a picture of a young man who came to the United States from Mexico with his parents when he was just 18 months old.

He graduated high school, applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program initiated by the Obama Administration and was granted temporary legal status. He worked in a North Hollywood hotel with his dad and allegedly as a driver for either Lyft or Uber.

But NBC4 Southern California has learned that Robles is under investigation by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for allegedly smuggling into the country another man who didn't have the legal right to be here.

Border Patrol says they arrested Robles on Feb. 12 on State Route 94 near Campo, California. In a statement to NBC4 radio partner KPCC, Robles' attorney, Joseph Porta, falsely claimed local police had arrested his client for a minor traffic violation and handed him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"I'm a little at odds as to why he's actually being detained right now," Porta said in a Thursday morning news conference at the headquarters of CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles. Porta claims ICE had since moved his client from San Diego to Arizona and ultimately to Georgia where is currently being detained.

"It's very troublesome because it's prevented me from speaking to my client, having access to my client and mounting a defense," he said.

ICE says detainees are often moved around when there's an overcrowding issue and San Diego is a location that often sees cases like that. But they add that Robles has access to a phone 24/7 even though Porta claims he has yet to speak with his client.

In Thursday's public news conference, Porta claimed he didn't know why Robles was arrested and Robles' mother also denied know the details. But NBC4 has learned that in an interview with KMEX in Los Angeles, Rosa Robles admitted that her son had unknowingly picked up a passenger near the U.S.-Mexico border that night. Neither she nor the family attorney have responded to requests for comment.

Meantime, a spokesman for CHILRA says Robles was near the border because he was working at the time as a driver for a ride share app, claiming it was either Lyft or Uber. NBC4 and our partners at Telemundo 52 have confirmed that is also false, with both companies denying Robles was a registered driver at the time of the arrest.

But the fact remains that Robles is in federal immigration custody and faces deportation to a country he's never been to since he left at such a young age, and he faces losing his DACA status. ICE says that since DACA went into effect in 2012, they have deported 1,500 recipients who "pose a threat" to national security.

In a statement to NBC4, ICE says undocumented immigrants granted deferred action from deportation who are subsequently found to pose a threat to national security or public safety may have their deferred action terminated at any time. According to the statement, "this includes those who have been arrested or convicted of certain crimes, or those who are associated with criminal gangs."

Border Patrol would not go into specifics into Robles' arrest but say he was subsequently transferred to ICE custody on Feb. 15 pending a hearing before an immigration judge. It will be up to the judge to determine if he has a legal basis to remain in the U.S.

The question as to his defense lies with his attorney, who says he's not sure about why his client was arrested in the first place.

"I haven't been able to verify that with my client and I need to maintain that silence until I know what's going on," Porta said.

Contact Us